EU ministers endorse digital coupling to boost rail freight

EU ministers endorse digital coupling to boost rail freight

By signing a joint position paper, European transport ministers from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland have committed to co-funding this technology that promises to increase rail freight's efficiency, safety, and environmental sustainability.

On Tuesday, transport ministers from Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, including Federal Minister for Mobility Leonore Gewessler, signed an important position paper entitled "The DAC is coming! This agreement pledges their commitment to the rapid implementation and joint financing of Digital Automatic Coupling (DAC) in rail freight across Europe. DAC technology promises to revolutionize the way freight trains are assembled, increasing efficiency and significantly reducing journey times.

The signed position paper signals a united front for the modernization of European rail freight, which is seen as essential for the future viability of the sector and critical to achieving the EU's climate change goals. DAC technology will bring the rail industry into the 21st century by increasing capacity, productivity, quality and safety. Ministers emphasized the need for a comprehensive European plan and funding strategy from the EU to ensure the project's success and underlined their willingness to co-finance the initiative at national level.

© FP5-TRANS4M-R/Fabian Acker 
© FP5-TRANS4M-R/Fabian Acker 

With a robust implementation strategy, the project aims to start introducing DAC-equipped trains by 2026, with full deployment by 2030. This development marks a significant step in the transformation of rail freight logistics and consolidates rail's role in sustainable mobility and environmental protection in Europe.

"With the introduction of the DAC, we anticipate significant improvements in productivity, thereby enhancing competitiveness and safety. It serves as the foundation for digitizing the entire train production process, leading to increased track capacity," said Clemens Först, CEO of ÖBB Rail Cargo Group.

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